CHICAGO (FOX NEWS) - Thousands of pages of documents have been made public Tuesday, detailing how the Archdiocese of Chicago dealt with sex abuse claims.
Lawyers for the victims released the documents as part of a legal settlement with the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Some of the victims were present at today's press conference.
They hope the release of the documents will help other abuse victims and heal old wounds.
Marc Pearlman/Advocate for Survivors of Those Abused by Priests, Jeff Anderson & Associates says: "The story today is not that there's priests who were abusing kids, that story has been told. The story today is, and what's new today is, that these documents reveal the decisions leadership made. There's been speculation about that, but now the documents will speak for themselves, and those documents will show, that leadership did engage in systemic cover-up of these matters. They routinely know, what's striking to me is every file is very similar, each file tells the same story, the only difference is the perpetrator's name, and the victims' names. Other than that, it's a pattern of repeated abuse, repeated allegations, the archdiocese working hard to keep that bottled up in secret, and then transferring these gentlemen from one parish to another so they can abuse again. And their primary concern is not that other kids will be abused but rather that somebody will find out that the priest is an offender, or that they knew about it. And in my view, when you read these documents, there's only one conclusion, they knew precisely what they were doing. As Jeff said, these were not mistakes, and these were decisions made at the very highest level."
Joseph Iacono/Survivor of Priest Abuse says: "These files what they mean to me is the truth. Not, what's coming from archdiocese, even, as early as last week, when the vicar stood up, and said there was no cover-up. 'Maybe we didn't know what to do, but there was no cover-up.' When are they gonna learn? There was a massive cover-up. The priest that abused me, moved seven times, and abused others. If they would've stopped him, like they would've stopped the other, at the time of the abuse, there would be many, there would be significantly less victims. Part of the release of these files, my hope that there will be less victims in the future, and people will stop putting the reputation of the institution above the welfare of the children. That is my hope."
The archdiocese says they complied with laws at the time.
But say they wished they had done more sooner.
To look at the documents, click on the link below: